ISLAMABAD - At least three people were killed and four injured when a lone suicide bomber attacked a Shia mosque on Wednesday, less than a week after a terrorist attack in Peshawar claimed lives of 21 worshippers in an imambargah on Friday.
According to police and eyewitnesses, the attacker, who was also armed with a revolver and hand grenade, opened fire and threw hand grenade at volunteers guarding Qasrr-e-Sakina Bint-e-Hussain imambargah located in congested Shakrial Town in order to clear his way into the main mosque where worshippers were offering evening prayers.
According to eyewitness Raja Kamran, a PPP office-bearer, the attacker - aged around 22 years – apparently knew everything about the imambargah and its routes as he quickly rushed towards the main prayer hall after killing two guards outside the mosque.
According to another eyewitness, Raja Naveed, who was present inside the mosque, the worshippers had sensed the danger upon hearing fire shots and the door of the mosque was closed so that people could rush for safety through the exit door.
The attacker tried to detonate his suicide vest near the closed door, he told The Nation. “The vest did not detonate so he hurled grenade at the door which resulted in his own death. There were 45 worshippers inside the mosque at that time,” Naveed said.
Soon after the attack a heavy contingent of police, Bomb Disposal Squad (BDS) and army personnel reached at the spot and cordoned off the area. Rescue workers and ambulances of different organisations also rushed to the scene and shifted the dead and injured to Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) and other hospitals. Emergency was declared in all the hospitals of twin cities after the blast.
The number of casualties according to eyewitnesses would have been much more had the attacker succeeded in detonating the vest, believed to possess 15 kg explosives. Police claimed the BDS team successfully diffused the suicide vest, however, eyewitnesses said the vest had not been detonated yet as it was partially damaged. Police and army personnel also conducted search operation in the area located along the main Islamabad Highway.
PIMS spokesperson Dr Ashya Esani said two people were brought dead to the hospital while three critically injured were under intensive treatment. The deceased were identified as Ghulam Hussain, 60, and Abdul Shakoor, 56. Hospital sources said that another injured Sahawat Hussain, 60, who had received bullet injuries, expired during surgery.
The terrorist attack was condemned by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and other political leaders who said the terrorists were resorting to coward attacks on peaceful worshippers adding that the national resolve against terrorism was high.
It was third terrorist attack on Shia community in less than three weeks. On February 13, at least 21 people were killed and 50 injured during a gun and bomb attack on a Shia mosque in Peshawar’s Hayatabad area. On January 30, as many as 60 people were killed in a bomb blast at a an imambargah in Shikarpur district of Sindh.
Shia political party, Majlis-e-Wahdatul Muslimeeen (MWM) condemned the attack and requested Army Chief General Raheel Sharif to expand the ongoing operation against terrorists named as Zarb-e-Azb to the whole country.
Major Sunni group Ahle Sunnat Wal Jamaat (ASWJ) also condemned the incident arguing the attack was not sectarian in nature rather it was a desperate attempt by the terrorists to kill the people.
According to Reuters, Fahad Marwat, a spokesman for the Taliban splinter group Jundullah, claimed responsibility, saying it was revenge for an ongoing army operation aimed at driving militants out of their North Waziristan stronghold along the Afghan border.
ATTACKS ATTEMPT TO CREATE
DIVISIVENESS AMONG NATION: ISPR
APP adds: While strongly condemning recent spate of terrorist attacks, Director General, Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa said on Wednesday that nation’s resolve to deal terrorism and extremism could not be undermined.
“Our hearts goes out to aggrieved brothers and sisters, we stand with them at time of grief,” he tweeted on social media.
He said that terrorist attacks are clearly an attempt to create divisiveness amongst the nation, which only serves the interest of detractors of Islamic Republic of Pakistan.
He said that such acts are attack on our most cherished religious value of peace and harmony.